Floratone – S/T

Floratone – S/T / 2007 Blue Note / 11 Tracks / http://www.floratone.com / http://www.bluenote.com /

Floratone is as close of an “all star” act that one can get in jazz and free-form experimental music. The two main components of Floratone are Bill Frisell and Matt Chamberlain. For those not in the know, those two individuals together have combined to work with this list of stars: Tori Amos, Morrissey, Stevie Nicks, The Wallflowers, Liz Phair, John Zorn, Loudon Wainwright III, Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, and Ryuichi Sakamoto. If that didn’t give Floratone a pedigree, the guest stars will. Viktor Krauss, Ron Miles, and Eyvind Kang all play a major part in the construction of the songs on this disc.

The first track is the eponymous one, and it shows influences of reggae ad ska even as a more chill type of jazz dominates. Floratone plays a style of instrumental jazz that is at such a level that individuals will not mourn or bemoan the absence of vocals throughout the disc’s 11 cuts. “The Wanderer” has a twinkling, almost Radiohead (“Hail To The Thief”) sound present. Despite the fact that Frisell and Chamberlain are creating a classically-sound composition in “The Wanderer”, one has to be somewhat sure that this track will get play on alternative and indie rock stations as much as it gets played on NPR. “Mississippi Rising” exchanges the twinkling, nighttime brilliance of “The Wanderer” for a meandering, southern blues infusion. There are hints of a vocal quality present during this track, but they are used in purely an instrumental format. What results is an uptempo sound that imparts a narrative as well as any band could with even two vocalists. The arrangements are tight and allow all parts of Floratone to fit together.

There is so much going on during an average Floratone track that individuals will have to spine this nearly-fifty minute disc  a number of times just to get to the bottom of what the band is trying to do here. There are so many genres and influences present during the eleven cuts of the album that It feels that a number of bands are contributing to the mythos that is Floratone. A closer look at the talent of the constituent parts, as well as the neatness of the arrangements, and it becomes clear who exactly are cutting these tracks. While Frisell and Chamberlain will be moving on to different projects in the future, I’d like to see them continue to release albums under this nomen.

Top Tracks: The Future, Frontiers

Rating: 6.2/10

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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